A 2-year large-scale trial in beef cattle in Alberta, Canada has successfully demonstrated that a novel feed ingredient, developed by Royal DSM, can be included in commercial feedlot diets to reduce methane emissions by up to 80%, without negative effects on animal health and performance parameters and carcass characteristics, according to the company.
This was the largest and longest trial for methane reduction in beef to date. The trial alone already reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 1,473 tonnes CO2e. This is comparable to taking 500 cars off the road for a year.
The trial was conducted by a Canadian Research Consortium consisting of Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Feedlot Health Management Services, Viresco Solutions, and DSM Nutritional Products, and with support from the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association. Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) committed $1.5 million to this $3 million project through its Methane Challenge.
The project was recognized for having positive implications for the province due to the fact 70% of Canada’s cattle production happens in Alberta. With ~15,000 heads of beef included in the trial, it represents the largest single trial conducted on methane reduction technologies for ruminants.
Methane emission from ruminants represents a significant portion of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change. Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and sustainable living, has developed a feed ingredient to reduce enteric methane formation in ruminants by over 30% on average. The ingredient is scientifically called 3-NOP and is considered a breakthrough technology that inhibits methane formation in the rumen of cattle.
The trial demonstrated the commercial viability of feeding 3-NOP in backgrounding and finishing operations in Alberta’s beef cattle industry in a large-scale field trial. The project (1) evaluated the relative effects of feeding the product on methane reduction and feedlot performance, health and carcass quality outcomes in feedlot cattle fed typical North American finishing diets (corn and barley grain based diets) as well as in a high forage, backgrounding diet, (2) evaluated direct measurement techniques for methane emissions in a commercial beef feedlot where the product was used, and (3) demonstrated the use of the product in day-to-day practicalities of commercial feedlots.
The inclusion of the feed ingredient in the diets of cattle has resulted in real, permanent and quantifiable reductions of methane emissions and has broad applications across Alberta’s beef and dairy sector, and in feedlots globally.
Steve MacDonald, CEO Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), comments: “Alberta’s agricultural sector is a world leader in sustainable practices. The results of this trial highlight that further opportunities are on the horizon for beef and dairy producers to better manage methane from cattle. ERA’s investments are accelerating the solutions that will deliver the improved economic and environmental outcomes Alberta and the world need.”
Mark van Nieuwland, Program Director at DSM is happy with the results of the trial: “We see the demand for low carbon beef and dairy products increasing globally. We are therefore very proud that our methane reduction solution has proven to be highly effective at scale and with this level of impact. This is the largest cattle trial DSM has ever contributed to with over 15,000 cattle tested. Our solution showcases well DSM’s purpose-led, performance driven strategy. We are very grateful also to ERA and the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association for their generous financial support to make this trial a reality and to deliver true impact for the planet’s future.”
DSM has filed the novel feed ingredient for commercial registration under the trade name Bovaer® in various geographies.